While their first four albums were all straight up classic Thrash Metal albums, all varying in their levels of melody, speedy, complexity and heaviness; their fifth album, 1992’s The Ritual found the band making their one and only attempt to streamline their sound and make a more commercial record, in the same way that launched a few Thrash bands into megastar status and which killed a great deal more bands almost for good.
The Ritual was the last album to feature the classic line-up of Chuck Billy on Vocals, Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson on guitar, Greg Christian on Bass and Louie Clemente on Drums; it was initially rather successful for the band, and may indeed have introduced a lot of people to Testament in the 1990s, but now isn’t often seen as a highlight of the band’s catalogue in the same way that their thrashier material is.
A fair few Testament fans out and out hate this record, so be warned of this fact before listening so that you don’t go in blind, expecting another New Order or The Legacy. When listened to with an open mind however, there is still a lot of worthy and interesting material present on The Ritual, and it isn’t altogether deserving of all the hate it can sometimes get.
No one could accuse the album of not being varied enough. ‘Electric Crown’ and ‘Let Go Of My World’ are Testament’s attempt to follow Metallica and Megadeth’s simplified, melodic, Thrash-meets-hard-Rock efforts of the time. ‘So Many Lies’ is a six minute long, repetitive mid tempo number. The Title-Track is a seven minute progressive number and ‘Return To Serentiy’ is another track in the spirit of the previous album’s semi-ballad ‘The Legacy,’ while ‘Deadline’ is a very melodic and commercial number with an almost hair metal feel at times.
Throughout the whole album, there are lots of interesting riffs and impressive guitar solos as always from Testament, only this time the record is both a lot more multi-faceted than before, while still remaining musically stimulating.
If you want to listen to Testament to hear Thrash Metal, as is only natural, then this isn’t really a record you should pick up. If however, you like Chuck Billy’s cleaner voice, lots of guitar solos and don’t mind if the tempo dips more often than usual then pick up a copy of The Ritual and enjoy this one unusual moment in the band’s career.